Sunday, January 31, 2010

You Win Some and You Lose Some . . .

and Sometimes It Takes Awhile To Figure Out Which It Is.

Just before Christmas, I had a phone conversation with my client Jim about the progress I’d made on the 2D commission we’ve been working on since August, 2009. With the preliminary sketch finished, I needed his written approval to continue. I was thrilled to hear he liked it. He had a couple of suggestions for small tweaks with which I agreed, and said he would send along the paperwork giving his OK. I floated into the Holidays with such a lift in my spirits. It was one of the best Christmas gifts of the year.

By January 5, I still had nothing in writing. So I called. I could tell from Jim’s voice it was not one of his better days. He said he had little if any sleep the night before. The physical pain was not relieved by the minor surgery he had just before Thanksgiving. We discussed the paperwork I needed and I asked him if he could please just put something in the mail the next day so I could get started.

Which he did.

But the ‘something’ wasn’t what I was expecting. In essence, he wrote he couldn’t go on with the project as he wasn’t ready ‘yet’ to deal with the painting and what it represented. The fact that these images would remind him on a daily basis what he had lost would simply add to the pain he was already feeling, both physically and psychologically.

It was like a punch in the gut. I felt as if I’d somehow let him down. What I had hoped (and thought he had hoped) would be a catharsis turned out to be more like drilling deeper into a wound that had never really healed after five years.

So all the frustrating ‘start/stop’, ‘he’s here/he isn’t’ over the past 6 months was mostly about his own pain and hesitation at continuing, something that took him months to finally articulate. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. But was it a total surprise? Knowing what I know about what he has been through and what he’s still going through? No, not really.

I have since written Jim, letting him know that I took his ‘yet’ as his not wanting to shelve the work permanently. I told him I’ve put the preliminary sketch safely aside along with all the images we collected together and the materials already purchased. My hope is that sometime in the future, he will, in fact, be pain free and be ready to continue on with the project.

So the gift I thought I was getting at Christmas time – the go ahead to continue and finish up a huge commission which was taking up a good deal of studio space as well as a large part of my creative focus – was really another gift altogether, the gift of clearing the way for new work – a smaller 2D commission I had put aside until after I finished with Jim’s and getting back into clay.

Yep, you win some and you lose some as my dear old dad used to say. It's been two weeks since I got Jim's letter. Today, it feels more like I've won some.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Look Forward . . . A Glance Back . . .

and Thoughts Which Ensue.

A new year begins with so much fanfare and hope for the future. Mine was no different. Thoughts of how to make significant changes, better known as ‘resolutions’, swirled around in my head: Go to the gym regularly. Schedule specific studio times. Look for the right venues to exhibit or even lend work out in order to get it seen, rather than just have it stashed away in crates. Begin the huge task of ‘downsizing’ at home or at least get rid of the extraneous flotsam and jetsam piling up all around to make it easier when the time comes. Find time to write more often and post to this blog.

All seems possible when you look at the calendar and it’s January 1st. Even twelve days into the new year, I can still imagine these things can and will come to pass. Already, I am on a fairly regular gym schedule, today feeling upper body muscle aches of overdoing the free weights yesterday. Tomorrow, I plan to take a yoga class hoping to relieve the chronic pain my arthritic back now delivers daily to remind me I’m not getting any younger. The studio is my second stop after the gym. As for the rest, I have to admit, I’m taking my usual Scarlett O’Hara posture: “Tomorrow is another day.”

Today, I’m thinking about how creative I’ve been these past weeks, even though not doing much in the studio. Decorating the house for the Holidays. Wrapping presents for the young German nieces and nephew. Baking and redecorating for the New Year celebration. It’s in my bones. It’s who I am and what I’ve always done and (realizing more and more) was always meant to do – to create beauty in my personal environment as well as create beautiful objects for others to have in theirs.

It was a full over-the-top busy Holiday season which started off by my getting the bug that everyone I know either has had, is experiencing now, or will get if not careful. I had to cancel one dinner party and while recuperating, plan my participation in a flurry of family events packed into the short span of a four day Christmas visit from our niece, Anna Sophie, who is currently living in Green Bay Wisconsin as a foreign exchange student from Berlin, Germany.

Then, a glorious Christmas was shared, one which I doubt any of us will ever forget. Another emphatic reminder that being in the moment is all we have, all there really is to our lives and those memories are what make being an old geezer, if we manage to live that long, worthwhile.

For many years, we have hosted an Open House on New Year’s day, inviting old and new friends to ring in the new year with mulled wine, mulled cider and a plethora of baked goods I lovingly and enthusiastically create. (Full disclosure: I have been known to stress out before this event making life in the household less than celebratory.)
This year was different because we pushed the event to the 3rd instead of the 1st, giving me a couple extra days to bake my little heart out and do it stress free.  It was a splendid day. Shirtsleeve weather took many out on the deck while light poured into an already lighthearted home. A terrific group of people filled the house with such good vibes I can only say I floated on those vibes for several days after. It didn’t hurt that we had cookies leftover – sugar highs are good for floating, too.

But now I’m back down to earth facing those pesky new and renewed plans for 2010. Can I give myself a small pat on the back for what looks to be my new schedule of gym/studio? Will I get to the rest of the list eventually? Will you be able to read about it here?

Only time will tell. And at this point, time isn’t saying much.